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Unnecessary own goal
Publish Date: Nov 15, 2005
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GOVERNMENT has just launched Universal Secondary Education and the NRM is holding its first national delegates conference. Under normal circumstances, the media would have given these two very important events massive publicity.

Unfortunately they have both been overshadowed by the arrest of Col Kizza Besigye on charges of rape and treason.

There have been longstanding allegations that Besigye has been associated, directly or indirectly, with the PRA in Congo. His former campaign manager James Opoka was killed with the LRA. The UN has confirmed that the PRA does exist in Congo. The High Court will now determine how much substance there are in these allegations, although the state will be burdened by the difficulty of producing evidence establishing ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’ that Besigye is guilty.

If the state has evidence that Besigye has been involved in treasonable activity, it is legitimate to charge him with that offence. However there is always a political dimension in deciding when and whether to proceed with prosecution in such high profile cases. Why did government not delay charges against Besigye until after next week when the NRM delegates’ conference would have concluded?

The NRM is in transition from being an umbrella movement to a political organisation. This week it is electing its national leaders; finalising its national power structure; and above all concluding the selection of its presidential candidate. This is the culmination of a long march initiated on February 6, 1981.

Moreover, President Museveni yesterday announced the introduction of Universal Secondary Education starting with S1 in February 2006. This too is a historical watershed, a giant step towards creating a well-educated globally competitive workforce.

Now all people are talking about is the arrest of Besigye. This was a public relations own goal by government. If it was determined to proceed, government should have delayed the charges until after the public had absorbed the positive messages of the NRM conference and the introduction of USE.

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